As the holiday season approaches, you can guarantee two things.
The first is that every store you enter will envelop you in an annoying soundscape of festive songs – Fairytale of New York, White Christmas, Santa Claus is Coming to Town.
The second is that you’ll be praying for a new smartphone.
OK, so the latter isn’t exactly a given, but with a raft of new devices on the market, you can be excused for wanting to cast your tired old smartphone into the fires of hell. The iPhone 4S is certain to be at the forefront, with industry experts predicting first weekend sales of the device will reach 3 million.
Not to mention that the original IPhone4 is one of the best selling smartphones ever. Some have gone as far as to predict that Apple will ship 25 million handsets by the end of the year.
That being said, the smartphone market has no shortage of options. One new handset looking to take a sizeable bite out of Apple’s market share is HTC’s Sensation XE. The stylish Android-operated device offers perhaps the best-value high-end option of them all. It costs roughly half of what the new iPhone is retailing for, and boasts a clutch of nifty features to rival the other heavyweights in the field.
Comprised of an aluminium unibody construction, the XE is powered by a blistering 1.5GHz dual-core, Qualcomm processor. To compare, the latest iPhone incarnation is running off a 1GHz processor (how quaint!) and the Samsung Galaxy S2 – recently named by tech mag T3 as the best smartphone of the year – comes in both 1.2 and 1.5. Suffice to say then, the Sensation XE has one mighty engine.
Style-wise, the Sensation XE is very much a smartphone equivalent of the Ferrari F430. Sleek and slimline, it weighs only 151g and has a sizeable 4.3-inch touch screen on which to pilot your widgets. While some consumers have been underwhelmed by Apple’s decision not to overhaul the design of the 4S, the Sensation XE comes in a daring red and black colour combination (remember the U2 iPod Mini?), and its tapered edges and wraparound case serve to make it feel slimmer than its 11.4 mm.
So it looks good, and it has a beastly processor. What else, you may ask, as you hastily prepare the pen and Christmas list. Well, the main selling point of the Sensation XE is undoubtedly its affiliation with Dr. Dre’s Beats Audio. In an effort to differentiate itself from the competition, the XE comes with Beats headphones (yes, the same earphones that retail for upwards of £139 in their own right) as standard, reengineering how sound is delivered to the listener. If you’re pining after the best audio smartphone on the market, look no further.
While the camera is 8 megapixels, just like the iPhone, its images suffer slightly from over-compression, and the sound quality when using HD video could be better. With that being said, features such as proximity and Gyro sensors, an accelerometer for better motion, 768MB of RAM and increased battery life (up from 1520mAh on the old Sensation to 1750mAh here) should keep you from too many sleepless nights.
This device has an internal memory of 4GB, but can be expanded to 32GB when utilising the MicroSD card slot. Beats Audio won’t be any good without a cache of your favourite songs.
Which reminds me: I better put some CDs on the Christmas list…